Tariq Kirksay had another outstanding game as Unics Kazan advanced to a ULEB Cup Last 16 showdown with Artland Dragons despite losing at Turk Telekom 96-93 in the Last 32 return leg. Unics ended up winning the two-game series with a 184-161 aggregate score. With Telekom leading by 16 points just after the break, Unics used a 25-11 third quarter run to take the life out of the hosts, who had to make up a 26-point loss from last week’s game at Kazan. Unics' all-around star Kirksay collected 26 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Virgil Stanescu added 17 points and 11 rebounds while Dusko Savanovic had 17 points and 5 assists, Sergei Chikalkin chipped in 12 points and Victor Keyru 10. Chris Williams paced Turk Telekom with 20 points and 6 rebounds while Kris Lang had 19 points, Haluk Yildirim 15, Khalid El-Amin 13 and Muratcan Guler 12. Erwin Dudley collected just 6 points and 1 rebound as Turk's ULEB Cup campaign ends after such a successful regular season.
Williams hit the first basket of the game for the hosts, but Chikalkin answered with a triple. Lang's second score of the night and a bucket by Bekir Yarangume made it 9-5, however Kirksay soon evened things at 9-9. Kirksay and Lavrinovic would not let Turk Telekom pull away, though back-to-back scores by Williams made it 24-17. The hosts led 25-19 after one period. Stanescu scored the first three points of the second for Unics only to see Ivica Jurkovic's three open a 30-22 gap. Kirksay answered from long range, but Williams went back-to-back again and El-Amin and Guler knocked down three-pointers as the Tutk Telekom advantage increased to 46-31. Stanescu scored three baskets to close out the half with Kazan trailing 49-37 – but still leading the series by 14 points.
Scores by Williams and Lang to open the second half made it 53-37. But Kirksay answered with a three-pointer and a second basket to start a 4-13 Kazan surge which included three-pointers from Savanovic and Chikalkin to get within 57-52. Five Turk Telekom foul shots reestablished a 10-point lead, 62-52. Stanescu and Kirksay both scored 4 points in a 2-10 Unics run, which was stopped by an El-Amin long ball. But Keyru answered with a triple of his own and Kirksay's foul shot made it a one-point game, which it was after three periods at 69-68. Jerry McCullough opened the fourth quarter with his first two baskets of the game for a 69-73 Kazan advantage. Williams and Yildirim both hit threes to pull within 75-76. But with the 26 points to make up from the first leg, Turk had no chance – especially as Kirksay got scoring in the fourth and his three made it 81-87. El-Amin and Yildirim both hit three-pointers to even the game. And two foul shots by Yildirim gave the hosts the lead 93-91. Savanovic tied the game but Guler's three-ball gave Turk the consolation victory.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008